The storyline for this year’s 2014 NBA playoffs were supposed to be about how unpredictable, suspenseful, and exciting this year’s playoffs have been. The NBA, unlike the NFL, NHL or MLB, is the most predictable sport out of the Big 4. It seem as though every year, the NBA has the same old script where the same two or three teams will probably win the NBA title. But not since the days of Michael Jordan, have the NBA playoffs have been this intriguing and engaging.
However, there is another storyline that has been hijacking the attention of this year’s NBA playoffs, and that is the recent remarks made by Los Angeles Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling this past weekend.
The racist remarks made by Donald Sterling were during a private conversation that was secretly recorded by his present girlfriend and mistress V. Stiviano. By now, these remarks are public and well known to everyone. What is also clear is that Sterling’s girlfriend clearly had ulterior motives in provoking the conversation by intentionally recording a conversation that most likely took place at the home of Sterling. Nevertheless, it does not excuse Sterling’s racist comments whatsoever – private or public.
As of right now, there is a firestorm debate as to how the NBA’s Commissioner, Adam Silver, and the rest of the NBA owners should come down on Donald Sterling. Some think that Sterling should be forced to sell the team. The current appraisal for the Los Angeles Clippers is close to $1 billion. So, the counter to this argument is, should someone be penalized $1 billion for making racist comments in private, not public? Furthermore, is being paid $1 billion to sell your team really a form of punishment? Charles Barkley and some others, do not think so.
Others want Sterling to be fined and banned from any NBA games in the future, so that the sting of public humiliation will hurt his reputation more than simply paying him $1 billion to go away. While, Sterling would still own the team, he would virtually be unassociated with it in any way.
As of now, the NBA has not come to a decision on how to discipline Donald Sterling. One of the things that they have made clear, however, is that Sterling will be rightfully afforded due process. One of the great things about America is that you are still innocent until proven guilty. So, the NBA is doing a full investigation into the authenticity of the tapes. Nothing could be worse than making these types of allegations upon someone, only to later find out that it was not true. Secondly, the NBA does not want to make hasty decisions and be forced with a lawsuit of their own. Despite, Sterling’s comments, he still has his own rights and there is no mention of disciplining owners with regards to matters such as this in the NBA bi-laws, which is what makes this situation so complicated from a legal perspective.
But make no mistake, the NBA will come down with a heavy hand on Donald Sterling and they will do so sooner than later, and the world will be watching what type of actions the NBA takes. But we do know this, there is no room for this type of person in the NBA, so here are the Top 5 reasons why Donald Sterling should be forced to resign.
5. History of Racism
Sadly, this is not the first time that Donald Sterling has been accused of racism. If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it is a duck. In 2006, Sterling was sued for housing discrimination charges by refusing to let African Americans and families with children rent units out of his apartment building in Los Angeles. Three years later, Sterling settled to the allegations by paying $2.725 million.
In 2010, the former general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers – Elgin Baylor – filed discrimination charges against Sterling for his wrongful termination. Baylor has also commented on Sterling’s preference for white coaches over black coaches during his time as general manager.
Former point guard of the Los Angeles Lakers – Baron Davis – is also well documented about the demeaning comments that Sterling would make to Davis while he was playing. Davis has frequently said that this is just the way Sterling is.
4. Current Players, Coach, and Commercials Do Not Want To Be Associated With Him
The Los Angeles Clippers made a silent protest before their playoff game on Saturday evening against the Golden State Warriors. The Clippers went to half court and took off their warm-up jerseys, but they only wore red shirts without the Clippers logo on the front. Sadly, despite the unified front, it was clear that the news played an affect on the play of the Los Angeles Clippers. Not to take anything away from the Golden State Warriors, but it was obvious that the Clippers were not themselves Saturday evening.
Furthermore, head coach Doc Rivers has publicly said that he is uncertain about his own future with the Los Angeles Clippers with Donald Sterling as his boss. Although Rivers and Sterling may have very little interaction on a day-to-day basis, it is obvious that Rivers does not want to be associated with Donald Sterling whatsoever, even if he is the one that pays the bills. If you have a team where the players want to protest against their owner because the owner is racist, this is clearly a dilemma that the NBA must deal with.
On top of all of this, it has recently been reported that State Farm Insurance wants to put its relationship with the Clippers on hold. Everyone has seen the Chris Paul and Cliff Paul commercials on television. And because Chris Paul is associated with the Los Angeles Clippers, the franchise benefits in many ways from the commercials and State Farm. However, now that the owner of the Clippers is undergoing major scrutiny for his racist comments, State Farm is taking a wait and see approach to see what the NBA will do with Sterling.
3. No One Will Play or Coach for Sterling in the Future
If the current players and coach for the Los Angeles Clippers do not want to be associated with Donald Sterling now, than what will it look like for the future of this ball club? The answer is that there is no future for this ball club with Donald Sterling as the owner of this team. The only way remedy for the NBA and the future of this franchise would be to force Sterling to resign in some way.
The city of Los Angeles will always be an attraction. Players and coaches want to live there. But as long as Sterling is at the helm, players and coaches are only left with one team to play for in the city of Los Angeles, and that is the Los Angeles Lakers, not the Clippers. If the Clippers are going to continue with the major success that they have been recently having, they would be wise to remove Sterling from his current position.
2. Bad Precedent for the NBA
Fans of the NBA, Commissioners of other major sports, and the watching world is waiting in anticipation to see how Adam Silver, NBA owners, and the rest of the NBA will handle this messy situation with Sterling. Silver was just inaugurated into office not too long ago, and even for former Commissioner David Stern, this would have been a lot to handle. However, Silver has been in the NBA for over 25 years and is well acquainted with the drama attached to the NBA.
And Silver knows very well that the recent racist comments made by Donald Silver do not bode well for the NBA. The NBA has always been conscious of its image and it has done a fabulous job of marketing its brand on and off the court through branches such as NBA Cares and other social responsibility programs.
And now, it has a new opportunity to do something about the social problem of racism. From the NBA Commissioner to the owners, players and analysts, they have all made it clear that there is no place for this type of person to be linked with the NBA. So, it is absolutely prudent for the NBA to bring a strong measure of discipline that is commensurate with this type of hate crime.
1. Opportunity to Make a Larger Statement
Last, but not least, this event is an opportunity for the NBA to make a larger statement. When Jackie Robinson was playing baseball, it was more than playing just baseball for Robinson. Robinson was not just representing athletes, he was representing the entire African American community.
By forcing Donald Sterling to step down from his current position, the NBA is making a larger statement to the world about what it stands for. The NBA’s influence does not just extend into the basketball world, but into many other world’s as well. Three quarters of the NBA is African American. None of Sterling’s comments are permissible in any type of setting, but it is especially impermissible in a setting where most of his employees are African American and they are the very ones that are bringing him success and money.
The beauty of sports is that it has the ability to break down racial, social, economic, and political barriers and to unify people from all over the world. Just think about the Olympic Games. What other event or meeting can bring warring nations together? Not even the United Nations is totally united in its ability to bring every nation and every tongue into one room together, but sports has the power to do that.
The NBA has a timely and unique opportunity to make a grand statement with the actions that it performs in the next 24-48 hours. So, what will they do?